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 Mobile GIS & LBS
Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan
Matt holds an MSc in Geography and GIS. He has been working with clients solving problems with GIS for over 17 years. Matt founded WebMapSolutions whose mission is to put innovative, intuitive GIS driven applications into the hands of new and existing users.

One Web GIS App for Desktop and Mobile: is it Possible?

February 3rd, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

Have you ever opened a Web page on your smartphone and found it to be unusable?

Text is too small, images too large, button clicks and navigation impossible. This is a problem we have all experienced. Indeed, we are often asked:

‘One Web GIS App for Desktop and Mobile: is it Possible?’

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Is 2014 the Year of Mobile GIS?

January 30th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

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5 Powerful New Ways Mobile GIS can Help your Organization

January 23rd, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

In this post we discuss 5 powerful new ways mobile GIS can help your organization.

No more Pen and Paper

A better title here might have been ‘replacing outmoded inefficient work practices’. Still much work done in the field relies on pen and paper; notes, paper maps, forms and documents. Today we can use smartphone and tablets to store all information in one place in a digital format. Digital format I hear you say? A format which allows us to push all your data into a central computer system. No more pulling together notes made in the field and generating spreadsheets, or requiring data entry folk to take your paper documents and transpose that data into the central data system. Cut out the middle man, upload all your field recorded data directly into the system yourself via your smartphone or iPad.

Do I hear you say more efficient?

If the data has a location component, which is most of the time, we can record current GPS location, maybe do reverse geo-coding to convert a GPS point to an address. Tying GIS into this system then provides the spatial analysis and visualization component. Our recent blog post talks more about replacing pen and paper with mobile technology

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Stepping Into The Brave New Cloud Enabled Mobile GIS World

January 16th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

Cloud and mobile technology are ….

Confusing and complicated.

Hard to fit into “how we have always done things”

Difficult seeing and demonstrating the benefits to management.

We have heard these responses and many more from clients. Stepping into the brave new cloud enabled mobile GIS world is hard. But the benefits are considerable. Read the rest of Stepping Into The Brave New Cloud Enabled Mobile GIS World

3 Ways to Replace Pen and Paper with Mobile GIS

January 14th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

The low cost and popularity of Apple and Android mobile devices has opened many new ways to apply GIS. Many applications GIS development companies like us are building are in part or fully mobile enabled. Mobile presents many new and exciting possibilities. In many ways we have only just begun to scratch the surface of the many opportunities to apply GIS and location service.

One area in which we have received many client requests is the replacement of pen and paper with mobile GIS. Many field based staff still rely on paper maps and note taking. Mobile technology coupled with GIS and location services has the potential to dramatically improve how people work in the field. Eliminating pen and paper will be a huge step forward in terms of efficiency. Read the rest of 3 Ways to Replace Pen and Paper with Mobile GIS

GIS in 2014 is Simpler and Cheaper

January 7th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

True: GIS in 2014 is simpler and cheaper.

Why? Cloud services and low cost (mobile) hardware.

Simple? Let others host and maintain while you focus on the solution.

Our conclusion from conversations over 2013 was that many still see GIS as this complex system. They have nightmares remembering GIS technology choices, licensing fees, tuning/maintaining/upgrading servers, publishing data. But their thinking had still to move forward.

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Mobile GIS Challenges and Opportunities in 2014

December 30th, 2013 by Matt Sheehan

Through the WebMapSolutions youtube channel we received a very interesting question. I thought it worth posting in our blog with our reply on the mobile GIS challenges and opportunities in 2014.

“I am a Geography student from the UK doing a module on Geospatial technology. As part of this module, I am attempting to gain an overview of the research challenges that face mobile geospatial computing. Since there isn’t a huge amount of approved literature on the subject, I have been using your videos as a source of information, and have found them very useful and informative.

I was basically wondering what you feel are the few challenges most relevant and problematic to functionality and development to apps such as mobile GIS, as well as location-based geospatial computing tools. Many of the tools you talk about in the videos require an online server to exploit some of the tools of ArcGIS. Do you know of any other mobile software that does not require any online server but provides all of the perks of programmes such as ArcGIS.”

Maturity of the Technology

In 2013 we saw a rapid acceleration in the evolution of GIS technology. Cloud and mobile computing were key drivers, and in 2013 GIS reached a tipping point. As a company WebMapSolutions recognised back in 2011 the potential impact these technologies could have on GIS. At that time, we began talking about location services rather than GIS. Cheap mobile devices with built in GPS, and cloud platforms we believed would transform our industry. It has taken nearly 3 years, but our prediction is proving correct. Now we have low cost GIS available at any time and place on any device. But the technology is still maturing. ArcGIS Online was released in early 2013, and continues to evolve; new services being rolled out gradually. New companies like GISCloud offer low priced cloud based GIS but remain limited. That will change.

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Powerful New Ways to Apply GIS in 2014 – Part 1

December 27th, 2013 by Matt Sheehan

Setting the Stage – GIS in 2013

GIS was once a niche technology. It was expensive, and used largely by those who had geospatial training. In 2013 that picture began to change. GIS is undergoing a rapid evolution. The increasing popularity of cloud computing, and mobile devices: tablets and smartphones, have helped broaden the appeal, and reduced the cost of location technology. In this article we will discuss this evolution and look at powerful new ways to apply GIS in 2014.

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Mobile Offline Data Collection on an iPad mini

December 3rd, 2013 by Matt Sheehan

iPad minis are cool. Their size means they are easy to carry; ideal for field work. But they are poor cousins to their larger relative. The biggest complaint is their lack of resources. Put simple they are badly under-powered. RAM is the biggest problem, try running too many apps or start using the camera and slowness and app crashing is inevitable. We wanted to demonstrate mobile offline data collection on an iPad mini. Our integrated ArcGIS Online mobile disconnected app has been recently optimized with this aim in mind. The short video shows the app in action:

Mobile Offline Data Collection

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5 Cool New Applications of Mobile GIS

December 2nd, 2013 by Matt Sheehan

The full potential of GIS is only just being realised. Esri and other location focused companies are driving forward with regular, new service releases which extend the possible applications of the technology. A wave of company mergers and acquisitions is underway in the location sector.

There are many exciting new ways to apply location technology. We thought it worth listing 5 cool new applications of Mobile GIS:

5 Cool New Applications of Mobile GIS


Geotrigger technology adds location awareness and location based alerts to mobile apps. Esri’s 2012 purchase of the Portland based Geologi, has helped raise the profile of this technology. They describe how the service works as follows:

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